Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea: Potters Feeling Blue After Late Malouda Winner

Malouda476

Chelsea went into the game with Stoke City hoping to equal their best ever top-flight run with a tenth consecutive Premier League victory, whilst the home side were looking for a fourth on the trot to continue their 100% record at the Britannia Stadium.

After taking the lead early and suffering two first half injuries, the memories of their 2-1 turnaround at the hands of the Blues last time out flooded back to haunt Stoke: Chelsea pulled level during the lengthy first-half stoppage time period and, after a second half of sustained Chelsea pressure, Florent Malouda hit the winner with seconds to go.

After all the controversy of the last week following their transfer ban, Chelsea looked relieved to be playing football again, starting brightly with Didier Drogba seeing a shot saved within five minutes.

Stoke however were far from in awe of their West London visitors, making Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech work from the outset, with James Beattie going close before being forced off after twelve minutes through injury, with Ricardo Fuller deputising.

Stoke seemed comfortable holding their own and thirty minutes in went one better as a Glenn Whelan cross found Abdoulaye Faye, whose powerful header inside the penalty area evaded Cech.

Chelsea’s responded with pressure on Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen’s goal before he gave Stoke manager Tony Pulis more cause for concern going the same way as Beattie, coming off injured in the 40th minute.

Just when it looked like Chelsea were struggling to penetrate a Stoke defence with six clean sheets in its last eight games, a real moment of quality from Frank Lampard and Drogba two minutes into the eight minutes of first-half injury time provided the difference. Lampard played an exquisite reverse pass through the Stoke defence leaving Drogba to roll Faye and smash the ball into the roof of the net for his fourth of the season, leaving replacement Stoke goalkeeper Steve Simonsen with no chance.

The Stoke backline was put under relentless pressure after the break, with excellent passing and moving from Chelsea, and this was only exacerbated by the introduction of Michael Essien and Nicolas Anelka, the latter providing more of a threat than an underwhelming Salomon Kalou. Stoke’s recent signing from Middlesbrough, Tuncay, came off the bench to give the Potters a creative outlet in the face of such pressure, but short of an aborted counter-attack or two all of the action was in the Stoke half.

Having scored their opener, Abdoulaye Faye was a rock in the Stoke defence, but they could only hold on to the point by the skin of their teeth for so long and were given a bitter taste of deja vu as the Blues pressed at the death. Pulis could have been forgiven for thinking a point had been won with all but one minute of injury time gone, but agonizingly for Stoke, following an extended period of pressure and frantic defending, they were finally overwhelmed by a Malouda drive with seconds to go.

~ by footballdirecta on September 12, 2009.

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